Big FM exits from deal in Singapore

Big FM exits from deal in Singapore

MUMBAI: The global downturn has upset Big FM‘s plans to spread its footprint overseas.

The deal between Reliance Media World, the company which runs its radio business under the Big FM brand, and Singapore-based MediaCorp Network has gone kaput much before it could run its full five-year course.

Big FM had set foot in Singapore on 1 July 2008 to produce and broadcast Bollywood content for three hours (5 pm - 8 pm) through MediaCorp‘s International Channel FM 96.3. The slot, which had a programming mix that included an interview with a Bollywood celebrity every day, humour capsules and news from India, was branded as Big Bollywood 96.3 FM and it targeted the expatriate communities in Singapore.

According to sources, Big FM stopped syndicating content to MediaCorp from 27 November. The Reliance ADAG-owned radio company had provided MediaCorp with 1545 hours of content and it was to fuel Big FM‘s expansion to markets like the Middle East, US and UK.

"The deal with MediaCorp was extremely important, given it was our first international venture. There have been some very key learning‘s from our association, which have given us a clear understanding of the business environment and market potential of Singapore, the entertainment requirements of the expat community, elements of programming and much more," says Big 92.7 FM CTO and business head (East and South) Soumen Ghosh Choudhury.

The downturn affected Big FM‘s business deal with MediaCorp. "An advertising slump did not make the business model viable for Big FM. The costs did not justify the revenue," says a source.

Even though the ties have snapped, Big FM is retaining its ad sales and marketing infrastructure that it has put in place in Singapore.

"We have an extremely able team in Singapore which will remain. There are several business options in the media sales space which the team will continue to pursue. There are several Singapore-based Clients who wish to use the Big FM network in India along with the other business verticals. Similarly there are clients in India, who wish to advertise in the foreign markets and we could help plan and execute for them," avers Choudhury.

Meanwhile, MediaCorp has partnered with Deshee FM, which is run by Singapore residents, to launch a new channel Masti 96.3 FM on 28 November. Similar to Big Bollywood 96.3 FM, Masti 96.3 will air Hindi programmes in the same time slot of 5-8 pm. Programmes will include sports, business and Bollywood music.

So will Big FM exit Singapore? "The global downturn has affected business plans of companies across the globe. The situation at the international marketplace has to be looked at from the new opportunities emerging which calls for robust business models. We are studying the opportunities and will return with much more to offer to the lovers of Bollywood music in Singapore," says Choudhury.

What about tapping the US, UK and Middle East markets? "We have been evaluating several options and will enter when we see the appropriate business opportunity. We want to reach out, not just to the fast growing Indian expat community, but to all Asians who love Bollywood and seek Bollywood entertainment across the globe," says Choudhury.